The Pennzoil Panther Pack started today's MBNA Mid-Atlantic 200 at Dover Downs International Raceway with a bit of unease but high hopes after the previous days gearbox problems foiled their qualifying attempt. The Pack began the race in 18th ...
The Pennzoil Panther Pack started today's MBNA Mid-Atlantic 200 at Dover Downs International Raceway with a bit of unease but high hopes after the previous days gearbox problems foiled their qualifying attempt.
The Pack began the race in 18th position and Goodyear began carving his way to the front. One third of the way through the race Goodyear radioed to the crew that the engine was misfiring. It appeared from diagnostics that the rev limiter was malfunctioning. Team Manager and Co-owner John Barnes and Crew Chief, Kevin Blanch began formulating a strategy to get Goodyear in the pits, replace the rev limiter and get him back out on the lead lap without losing any ground. Fortunately for the "Pack" the track went yellow on lap 70 and gave them plenty of time to formulate the most advantageous pit stops for Goodyear. The "Pack" brought Goodyear in on lap 77 for the 1st sequence of what would be 3 pit stops to make the change and keep the team in the race. During the first pit the crew loosened the cam-locks (fasteners that hold the side pod), the second stop they removed the rev limiter and installed the new one and during the third and final pit under yellow they finished tightening down the cam-locks. Throughout this sequence the "Pack" was able to stay on the lead lap and maintain their position.
After the race went green Goodyear began methodically marching his was through the field. By lap 131 Goodyear had joined the leaders and was running in 4th place. But the good fortune didn't last. On lap 144 Goodyear returned to the pits and it was determined that a timing chain on the engine had let go. Goodyear and the Panther "Pack" were out of the race. There was still some good news though, the "Packs" hard work had kept Goodyear in the race long enough to collect a 17th place finish and 13 points towards the championship points race. Goodyear and team remain in first place in the points standings with 193 points.
Goodyear was philosophical about the weekends events. "We've had bit of a weird weekend here, going from top speed on Friday and then Saturday the problems started and we were lucky to qualify 18th. I'm glad we're still in the lead but we've got to really focus in these next couple races and collect some serious points if we want to stay in the hunt."
Greg Ray went on to win the race and is now in 2nd place for the points championship at 191 points.
The Pennzoil Panther "Pack" will return to action on August 29th at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
**The "Pack" also got to try their pit crew skills during the ASA race that followed the IRL show at Dover Downs. Pennzoil Panther test driver, Dave Steele, was entered in the race in the Automotive Promotions/Sabco Racing car for the event. Crew Chief, Kevin Blanch, Fueler, Tom Howatt and Left Rear Tire Changer, Chris Welch joined Dave's ASA crew during the event and acted as his "over the wall crew". It was a different experience for the "Pack" working on the modified stock cars. "It was great" said Blanch, "but man what totally different deal with everything from the tires to the way they jack the car up."
Steele drove a great race before contact in turn 3 took him of contention on lap 113.